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Fans offer more than idol

By Raymond Zhou | China Daily | Updated: 2016-01-18 08:24

First of all, it is resistant to reviews. If you're a fan of Guo, it doesn't really matter how good or bad the film is. There was a saying back then that Guo could have shown two hours of PPT slides and still gotten a standing ovation from his audience. If you're a fan of a teen idol, all you care about is whether and how he appears in the movie, not how well he acts.

This brings me to my latest encounter with China's fan culture.

In my review of Mr. Six, I spent much space extolling the performance of Feng Xiaogang, who is a master director in himself but this time delivered a lead performance that beat all actors at their game. I accidentally mentioned that Kris Wu, a young singer-turned-actor made popular in South Korea, "held up pretty well in his scenes with Feng".

In the following days, I got thousands of messages thanking me for my appraisal, all assuming the tone of Wu's buddies. It took me a while to realize none of them was commissioned by Wu to show their gratitude.

That movie, now widely considered 2015's best Chinese work, is crafty enough to enlist not only Wu, but Li Yifeng, a pop idol from Sichuan who sounds nothing like the Beijing native that his role requires, and in a cameo appearance, TFBoys, a trio of youngsters who are barely into their teens.

Against the stalwart Feng, this casting choice looked like a desperate act to win the youth market. But it worked. Feng's disdain for this batch, whom he often calls "sissies", added to the authenticity of the dynamics.

As for TFBoys, they should be in braces. Liu Chun, a media manager, thought aloud about the meaning of the initials. "Could TF mean taofen?" he wrote in his micro blog, referring to a Chinese homonym of "digging up dung".

As expected, a cloud of fanatics descended on him, until he issued a public apology worded in a "cultural revolution"-style letter of contrition. "I'm guilty. I deserve to die. I bow to you revolutionary guards. I don't know enough English. I'm clumsy with words. Call me dung-digging dog or dung-digging pig!"

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